Improving complaint handling by reducing re-opened & escalated complaints

Improving complaint handling

How we improved complaint handling for a client by reducing in call transfers by 6% and re-opens by 4% and increased NPS from -16 to +13.


As part of our ongoing continuous improvement activity for a major energy provider, Sigma Connected produces detailed analytics reports of service delivery in real time. When reviewing the reports, the operations team at Sigma noticed that both the number of complaints and the number of reopened complaints were increasing. Taking a proactive approach, the Sigma team put several new measures in place to turn the trend around. 


In the first half of the year, analytics reports highlighted that the volume of complaints re-opening had begun to rise from a steady 2% to over 7%. Our ‘Resolved At 1st Contact’ was holding steady at c70% and NPS had dropped to a negative score. A third metric, ‘Call Transfers’, had also begun to rise as Sigma Connected advisors were referring calls back to the client for further advice or assistance.


Analysis was carried out on complaints being received and re-opened complaints, over a 12-month period, to look for trends. Additionally internal focus groups were held with advisors to understand the reasons for call transfers increasing.

The analysis from all 3 areas pointed to a shift in the types of complaints with an increase in the number of ‘High Bill’ and/or ‘My Direct Debit is incorrect’. Further root cause analysis into this revealed two key findings.

  1. Customer consumption had increased during the winter of the previous year due to a large proportion of people working from home. Customers were assuming the bill was incorrect rather than acknowledging their increase in consumption.
  2. Direct Debits hadn’t been proactively reviewed to cater for increased consumption and there was a significant increase in the monthly payments for the customer to ‘catch up’.

Sigma Connected advisors were able to have a conversation around a high bill but didn’t have the authority to be able to allow customers sufficient time to repay or spread the repayment over a longer period. This was driving the increased escalations to the internal client teams. In some situations, Sigma was resolving at first contact by agreeing an acceptable repayment but did not then have the authority to extend the Direct Debit enough which led to a significant increase in the volume of complaints re-opening and escalations to 3rd parties when the customer realised what they had agreed hadn’t been fulfilled.

To turn round the upwards trend on these key metrics, we worked closely with our client to change permissions enabling Sigma advisors to offer and then set-up longer term payment plans. Bill messaging was reviewed to give an explanation to the customer about why they could expect an increase in consumption. These new skills were embedded within the Sigma team with a short upskill programme.

We also recommended that our client made changes to their internal systems to address the Direct Debit review process to pro-actively reduce the number of complaints being received in the future.


Due to our proactive approach to the complaint’s situation, over a 6-month period the client benefited from the following:

  • Reduction in call transfers by 6%
  • Re-opens reduced by 4% to 2.5%
  • Overall NPS increased from -16 to +13

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